Shit. Time Flies When You’re Falling into a Depression

What’s up, amigos?

Long time no blog! I have about 37 drafts but they’re all mediocre and so here I am writing to catch up for the last three months.

As the title suggests I am 1) confused as to how it is almost December and 2) just now coming back out of a really shitty and pretty extreme depression.

It has been a lot of things. It was work, a break up, work again, general loneliness, etc.

Mostly work. Why? you ask? Well, because work is fucking hard.

So why don’t you quit if it stresses you out that badly? All you ever do is complain.

Yeah well fuck you I get to complain because my job is hard. And it isn’t that easy to just quit. I can’t leave these kids. Not when I’ve finally proven to some of them that I’m a white person that gives a shit about them. One of the first adults to give a shit about them.

That’s important. I’m sticking around at least for this year. Because it is important for these kids and it is important for my career as a teacher.

But how did I fall into a deep, deep depression? And how am I crawling out little by little every day? Well, that’s a longer story. Strap in, amigos.

I was pretty depressed when I wrote my last post about my first few weeks working at school. Not much has improved since then except my abilities to roll with the punches (both figuratively and literally…punches) and my rep with the kiddos is getting pretty solid. Most of my homeroom boys are loyal to the end and are fiercely respectful when they’re just with  me. We’re now working on being respectful to everyone even if they aren’t me. I think we’ll get there.

I got over the initial shock and depression from work by getting pretty heavily involved with this dude. Guys, he was everything anyone could ever want. Gorgeous, hilarious, kind, communicative, honest, and just amazing.

He said all the right things at exactly the right time. (cue Vertical Horizon)

A week into our relationship he let me know that he had broken things off with another girl he was sleeping with because he wanted to see where things went with me.

He knew about and witnessed my hella anxiety and would do his best to stand by me and make sure I was okay. We had amazing sex. We communicated effectively. One month into us dating we both said “I love you.” Not because it was rushed and we needed to say it but because from day one it seemed like love was bubbling under the surface. And guys, love is a GREAT anti-depressant.

The night we said “I love you” I picked up on a red flag in our ‘ship because he took me to a work function of his. He was all dazzled by how gorgeous I am when I try to dress up, and then introduced me as his “friend” to his friends. You coulda left that out, bucko. If girlfriend is so scary you could have just been all mysterious and said “this is Jess.” BAM. No “friend” bullshit and no “girlfriend” anxiety. But nooooo.

Anyway, things got sorta weird after that because he bailed on me three times in a row that weekend after telling me he wanted to meet my dad. At every opportunity he came up with excuses or tried to get me to change my mind about inviting him instead of just telling me he didn’t want to fucking meet my fucking dad.

So I went over to his place the second-to-last night that my dad was visiting and spent the night. It was bomb. He’s so great. Aww yay love.

I asked him if I could stay the night again, since it had been a few days since I had seen him and because I was leaving the next day for a week. He said he would love to see me. In fact, he went so far as to say “nothing would make me happier than seeing you again tonight”

We set a time for me to go over to his place earlier in the day (Me: how is 10? Him: perfect, like you) and while I am waiting for my uber to arrive at 9:45 he texts me that I should stay home- don’t I want to spend the last night with my dad? Won’t I feel bad? blah blah blah.

Motherfucker, I want to see you. I will be home early to make my dad coffee. Wtf.

“I’m just not trying to chill tonight”

Jesus. Okay. Could have said that ANYTIME IN THE LAST 10 HOURS but no it’s cool. So I go on vacation and want to talk to him about the bullshit that is bailing on me over and over again but he won’t fucking talk to me. “Go enjoy your vacation. Don’t think about me” Right. Because I can do that.

I did my best to do that. When I returned shit hit the fan. I went to go see him and we got to talking. And he told me that I should have just forgotten about him and done whatever I wanted on the vacay. Make out with whoever I wanted, sleep with random vacation strangers, etc.

So I asked him if that was what he would want if he went away for a few days. Would he want to bang random ladies and forget all about me? Well, it turns out that yes, he would want that.

I let him know we were on very different levels of our relationship. I asked him how I could have gotten so confused about where we were. He could think of nothing. He thought I was batshit for even thinking we were in something monogamous.

I don’t know, dude. Maybe because you told me you broke up with a girl so you and I could see where our relationship would go. Maybe because you TOLD ME YOU LOVED ME.

But you “aint tryna be anybody’s boo” so I get it. I must have gotten my signals crossed.

See? I’m STILL MAD about that. I’m still hurt by that. He said all the right things all the time and I think it was out of him dating girls that just wanted to hear the excuses so they could feel like he loved them. I am all about honesty and when his stupid asshole actions didn’t match with his slimy manipulative words I had to call him on that.

And his ass had the effing audacity to say “well we can still hang out and have sex, right?”

NO, MOTHERFUCKER. WE CANNOT.

So that kind of influenced my depression to go another way. It is a really terrible feeling to realize that most of your happiness in the past month was based on another human making you feel wanted and valued when in reality all they were doing was trying to get their bang on.

I got sad again. And just a few weeks ago a huge change happened at work and they didn’t adequately prepare staff or students so I got my 4 girls ripped away from me and I got a whole new class of boys who hated me as much as they loved their last teacher. One who I look up to. One who literally coaches me. A better teacher.

They got stuck with me and I can’t hold onto a boyfriend. I can’t have ONE human love me how can I convince these kiddos that I am worthy of their respect when ONE person can play me like a fool?

Illogical thought process, I know. But I still had a fucking breakdown at school and took three days off with a weekend in-between.

Because I had to think about some shit.

I needed to sleep. That was one thing. And I needed to get my shit together with planning for my classes. And I finally, finally needed to go see a doctor about getting medication for my anxiety.

When a classroom of 9 eleven-year-olds can send you into a panic attack, and you’re going to have those same 9 children every single day for the rest of the year….you probably can’t handle your anxiety on your own anymore.

I also finished my free therapy sessions that were allotted to me from the DC Rape Crisis Center from the sexual assault in August 2015.

No therapy, stressful job, worsening anxiety, slipping into depression, shitty break up.

Let’s go talk to a doctor.

She was amaaaaaaaaazing. And we chatted for a while about my fears of medication and whether we should treat the anxiety or the depression, etc.

I got a prescription for my anxiety. And the first few days were hell and I cried ALL THE TIME and I wanted to puke and then eat and then puke and then eat and it was weird.

But holy shit. Even in just the 3-4 weeks I’ve been taking them my whole mentality has shifted. I feel ready for work. I feel determined to work hard to improve my relationships with the kiddos. There’s a lot going on and I think I can make it.

Also, fuck that guy. I see him all the time at the bar we both love and frequent. Yesterday was the first time I saw him and didn’t cry. Because he cannot have that hold on me anymore. I am my own damn woman and I will go where I want to go and I will laugh when I want to laugh and I will be happy without a man or a woman by my side because my happiness and my control over myself is what is important. Fuck everyone else.

Thanks for reading. #sorrynotsorry it turned into a rant.

This is where I am. Stay tuned for hilarious and/or weird and/or sad posts about my life at work. Because I basically live there now. But it’s cool.

Until next thyme, friends! (haha, Thanksgiving pun!)

 

The First Few Weeks

Alright, guys. Instead of writing a full synopsis of the last few weeks, I will share with you the progression of my Facebook statuses since pursuing my new job while filling in the blanks with narrative, in italics.

July 26: Guys guys guys guys!!!!! I applied to an incredible charter school today!! So pumped.

I had been introduced to the idea of this charter school through an Uber driver while my mom was visiting me in DC for my birthday. About three days after applying I was told that they saw my experience was mostly with  PK3-3rd graders and always surrounded English/Language Arts (ELA). Because they saw that, they wanted me to teach a math lesson following sixth grade standards. 

August 1: GUYS I DON’T THINK I CAN TEACH MATH. 😥

Ha, I was fucking terrified. I spent so much time (okay, one day since they gave me 2 days notice) on this lesson and I was freaking the eff out. 

August 2: I tried on a million outfits to figure out what I’m going to wear to the interview tomorrow and once I found the right one I sat down and finished my lesson plan! Let’s hope I don’t get all anxious and just yell “MATH!” really loud and then Tina-groan for 20 minutes.

I discovered that the charter school in question was a short walk from where my bff teaches in DC and I asked her to give me a ride. She agreed and I showed up at her apartment to practice my lesson pretty damn early. I went, I kind of rocked the lesson, I got along well with everyone I met and I felt good vibes from these teachers/staff members.

Also August 2: Thanks for the positive thinking everyone! I think it went well- will update you when they get back to me. 🙂

Hint: they didn’t get back to me for a while. They had said I would hear back by the 5th. 

August 19 (AKA NOT THE FIFTH): So for those of you following my job hunt I finally got contacted again by the amazing school I interviewed with a couple weeks ago. Last night I got a text at 10 and they asked me to come in for an ELA lesson today! Combination of feelings-so excited for them to still be thinking of me but also why tf are you giving me 13 hours notice bruh? Way chiller today with my language arts lesson than I was about my math lesson.

Also August 19: Second interview/lesson went really well! Will keep y’all updated.

Side note: holy shit yes I see how much I use Facebook. Don’t hate.

August 21: Who has two thumbs and starts her big-girl teaching gig on Tuesday? THIS GIRL. Say hello to Miss Reed, sixth grade humanities teacher!

August 22: OMG GUYS MY FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL IS TOMORROW. WTF.

August 23: Wtf have I done.

This change in narrative is not to be ignored. I was SO excited. I was told that I would have an entire week to observe, get to know the students/school, and set up my classroom space. Instead, I was thrown in headfirst with a substitute that believed since I was in the classroom she didn’t have to do her job. I was forced to teach on the first day- after specifically being told that I would not need to prepare a lesson, as the substitute was there and had plans for the week. Some highlights of the things that happened on day 1:

  • I was immediately asked if I am racist/ voting for trump
  • I was physically threatened by a sixth grade female. She held scissors to my neck and told me that I was white, she didn’t have to listen to a thing I said, and that I should remember that before she cut me.
    • I didn’t cry
  • My desk was flipped, my phone was stolen (later returned)

August 24: Can we just talk about the fact that anyone who wants to teach will never be prepared to do so in DC? You just can’t prepare yourself to understand it until you’re in it. Blessed to have this opportunity but damn if I haven’t thought about quitting every five minutes since my first day….yesterday. I am pro-adulting and in bed by 10:30, though, so that’s good.

Guys this is when my mindset started to shift real hard. I was incredibly excited to begin this opportunity. I also was super stoked to be teaching English, work with a fucking incredible group of people, and just be following my dream of teaching kiddos who come from low income families and have high emotional and academic needs. Sure, I had no idea that over 80% of the students were emotionally disturbed or that a large portion of them became explosive and violent when told to sit in a chair, but I was grateful for the opportunity to work in this school. 

On the 25th I was slapped in the face. 

August 27: Spending my day researching effective classroom environments and writing personal letters to my kiddos- both the students who behave the majority of the time and also to the kiddos who like to attack me on a regular basis. Oh, and then going to work tonight 😦

I was still working two jobs at the beginning- fuck my life. I researched a lot and I changed my room around. I wrote those letters and most of them still have the letters in their binder- I don’t think it did much in the beginning but I see them re-read the letters when they’re frustrated or bored. So that’s cool. The letters tell them some of the good things I had noticed in my first few days of working with them and shared some info about me. 

August 29: Guys. Is this even what I want to do. Fuck.

Still a question I ask myself, though things have started to get a bit better. I sincerely questioned my entire life’s path during my first few weeks at this school. I was convinced I had made a terrible, terrible mistake. I went home each night sincerely hoping that I might get murdered or hit by a car so that way I could just be dead and not have any stress to deal with the next day. I wanted to die. I didn’t necessarily want to kill myself but I wanted to end everything. The stress was so much. I have a student who saw his father die, a student in foster care who was left alone as a child for years in the streets of New York. These children were/are going through and processing things I have never had to deal with and I commend the shit out of them for showing up. But it fucking weighed/weighs on me. All of the stress. Just all of it. I wanted it to stop. 

September 1: That awkward moment when you can’t leave your room to get your lunch because there are children throwing chairs/scissors/staplers down the hallway and trying real hard to enter any and all classrooms to destroy all things possible.

This still happens. Too often. I can’t send kids into the hallway to go to the bathroom because they might get hurt. Sometimes I can’t open the door lest a student from another class barge in and disrupt (best case) or destroy (more likely) the class. So hard. 

September 3: Brunching by myself today, I think. The possibilities are endless when I have a WHOLE WEEKEND OFF!

Week two was done. Week one of me being the only one in the classroom. I really needed someone to process my time with but nobody was available for company. Which was a bummer. I ended up staying at home all weekend and getting sort of drunk. A lot. 

On Labor Day I brunched with a friend. She had a lot she was dealing with so I was happy to ignore my depression and instead focus on her. I saw a past colleague and excitedly told her I finally got a teaching job! She said “yeah but it’s not like you like it, all I see is you complaining on Facebook all the time.” 

First of all- fuck you. Second of all- eight million things happen in one day at school. Teachers have to make the most decisions per day versus any other profession. I have to do and act and process while doing and processing and reflecting. It’s fucking HARD. Of course I complain on Facebook. I also show up to this job every day with the big grey cloud of depression and suicidal thoughts above me. So fuck you again for telling me I must not be happy about this job. 

September 5: Just as a big, clear FYI: I have sincerely battled killing myself every night this week because of my job.

Went out with my BFF and her roommate to our local favorite bar and got a little drunkypoo. I got upset thinking about the colleague who told me I must hate my job and I admitted to my friends and our bartenders that I had been suicidal for a few weeks. I cried. A lot. And I went home, angrily scrawled this on facebook, and proceeded to break down on my kitchen floor for like an hour. Thank goodness my housemates are amazing and they did a great job helping me settle down. 

September 7: Trying to write a blog post about secondary trauma. >,< Edit: instead, I completed the Anxious Teacher’s worst fear: calling all of my students’ guardians and leaving FOURTEEN VOICEMAILS. Coming from the girl who couldn’t call for her own pizza until…..ever bc the internet.

Secondary trauma is so real. I have experienced it day in and day out through these kids and their actions. Additionally, only five of my fifteen guardians/parents seemed to be willing to speak with me so I don’t have support from home. 

There are more Facebook statuses I could add, all the way up until a few days ago. I started this blog post like two weeks ago and I haven’t been in a good place until recently to start writing again. I now have some really great things that I’m focusing on outside of work and I also am finding my stride in the classroom. Like 60% of my kids kind of like me now. I’ll take that as a small victory.

I have to remind myself every single day that I need to take everything poco a poco… little by little. I am holding fiercely onto my hope and I will soon be writing some posts (hopefully) about funny things in the classroom or happy things my kids do instead of telling you how much I hate my life from 8-5.

Thanks for reading. Reach out with questions or support. Please. Support is really helpful for me right now.

 

An Unacceptable Reality

Trigger Warning- rape, sexual assault, suicide

Tuesday of this week started as a normal day. I woke up, went to job #1, and while on break had a delicious lunch at my go-to lunch break spot.

I went to job #2 excited and ready to make hella money (rent is in a week!)

And then shit hit the fan.

That asshat piece of slime bartender who assaulted me this winter had picked up someone’s shift and was at work.

I wasn’t ready for it. Some part of my psyche wasn’t guarded. I hadn’t taken the necessary steps to prepare my mind and protect my emotions from seeing his stupid face.

And then I broke. The years of trauma came washing over me as I had to interact with this fucker and it was too much for me.

I stepped outside. I smoked a coworkers cigarette to see if that would help. It didn’t do anything but make me dizzy.

I was bawling. I was a fucking hysterical mess. And I realized I had two tables I needed to go greet. Fuck.

So I said hello with a smile while tears poured down my face. I refilled their water while my fucking soul fell out of my eyes.

And my manager noticed. Whoops.

He walked outside with me and asked what was wrong. He gave me a hug that lasted a million moments and it was amazing. He told me I was safe and he would always fight for me to feel that way.

He said he wanted me to stay there and he knew I wanted to stay. I thought he was talking about the night but he may have been talking about in general.

He let me leave.

I was incapable of human interaction, guys. For the first time in my professional career as a server my trauma controlled me and I feel so goddamned weak to admit that. I feel weak and cowardly to have needed to leave.

But I needed to leave. I had no coping skills. That evening my mind forgot all of the work I’ve been doing and I was again just a lost fifteen year old who had just been raped by her best friend.

That night I was a victim instead of a survivor.

And my old manager who now works at the restaurant one door down saw me suffering outside. She walked to me and hugged me. After nearly an eternity she asked me if I wanted to talk about it. I always want to talk about it.

She opened a space in which I felt warm, safe, and well-received.

But her soothing words left me feeling uneasy.

You see, she told me that she was proud of me for leaving. For realizing shit was too hard and that I needed to do something for me and get the hell out of there. She said that so many of the girls she knows who are survivors never do the things to take care of themselves.

So many of the girls she knows who are sexual assault survivors. 

She told me that when she first came to the restaurant where I work now that she asked all the front of house staff if they have ever worked in a job in which they were not sexually assaulted.

Not one single fucking person raised their hand.

Not one.

She told me this story to jokingly share that the two male managers who had been there before her (and are still there) had noooo idea how big of an issue sexual assault was in the workplace, especially in restaurants.

I did not find comfort in knowing that I share this horror with others.

Of course nobody wants to be alone when dealing with something- we all want people to relate to. But sexual assault should not be a given. Sharing my trauma from shitty bartender should not be met with “ohh, you work in a restaurant? Yeah, I could have told you that would happen.”

What even?!

Female manager told me she knows countless women that have been sexually assaulted, raped, attacked….

Countless.

Guys, this is a fucking unacceptable reality. We cannot be okay with this.

Things can’t continue this way. We can’t excuse predators because it “happens all the time”

We can’t put the onus on survivors to do what they need to do to take care of themselves.

We need to fucking punish the idiots who think that someone else’s body is meant for them.

We need to stand up and say this is UNACCEPTABLE.

I know that female manager was doing her best to comfort me but really all I got was angry. I am angry that those words were supposed to comfort me. I am angry that I am now thrown in with millions of people who have been assaulted. And nobody is doing jack shit to change that.

I work for a company that requires 75 write ups before someone can get fired.

HR told me if my assault didn’t happen on premises they can’t do anything about it.

My managers hands are tied.

Fuck you and your tied hands that man assaulted me and does not deserve to work in a place where there are countless women he can assault again.

Once a predator always a predator.

But nope, when I am a crying heap of uselessness that can’t get her shit together my emotions are shameful and I need to “buck up” and “realize that it happens to everyone.”

That is not comforting. That is scary.

Writing the rest of this post two days later is a little surreal. I feel calm and in control of my emotions. Tuesday I did my best to make sure I didn’t wake up Wednesday morning.

Buutttt I did. And here I am. Proof that not everyone can kill themselves on the first, second, third, or even fourth try.

Time and time again I have thought that my emotions and my trauma were too much to bear. The oily, pervasive feelings of anxiety that try to make knots in my stomach but slip around like a ball of snakes make me feel worse than anything anyone can say to me.

And they are not alleviated when I am told that this happens all the time.

We have to stop this.

 

 

 

Letter Series Continued

To the jackass I work with:

Yo, it’s me. You know, that girl you assaulted a few months ago?

Come on! You can’t have forgotten already.

Oh wait! I forgot. You were drunk.

Oh wait! I forgot. You were “in a bad place”

Oh wait! I forgot. You don’t remember.

Can’t remember

Won’t remember.

No matter how many times you change your story when you straight-up lie to me about that fateful night I will never, ever forget what you did to me.

And I will never forgive you.

Because you are a predator. You are a manipulative, dishonest, violent douchebag that only knows how to deceive and hurt.

You are not a good person. It is so painful to work with you because I see my colleagues/my friends/people I care about interact with you and they are so kind to you.

They don’t know you like I do.

Even the ones who know what you did to me smile at you and happily interact with you. Sometimes it hurts to see this. Sometimes it is just confusing.

Occasionally I will see you or hear you at work interacting with others and I think maybe I should just ‘get over it’ and be pleasant with him at work.

And then reality reminds me that you fucking sexually assaulted me.

You put your hands on my body when I told you not to. You kept going when I told you to stop. You ignored all of my protests so that you could get what you wanted.

But now you’ve conveniently forgotten. I wish I could.

What you did to me was not the worst thing that has happened to me. But it is so similar to those even more terrible things that every time I see your goddamned face I only remember terror and pain.

You’ve noticed that I don’t like to be scheduled to work with you and that I go out of my way to not work with you. Why would that matter if you never did anything wrong? Why would I do that if you never did anything wrong?

Guess what, jackass? You did something incredibly wrong.

So when you tell me “I know you don’t like working with me. I always try my best to stay out of your way. I know you don’t like me. I don’t really know why but it’s whatever” all I hear is “blah blah blah I’m a predator blah blah let me try and manipulate you.”

So fuck you. Goodness gracious good gully gosh, fuck you.

And that’s really all I have to say.

My Trauma Narrative Continued

Trigger Warning: Rape, sexual assault

…this is a long-ass post. Buckle up.

It has been about two years since I actually posted on the internet that I am a sexual assault survivor.

In those two years I have come leaps and bounds past where I thought I would be and I get so emotional when I think about Past Jess and her hopelessness.

This blog has been a huge part of that. Telling my story, even in stages, has helped me understand and process my own feelings on what I’ve been through.

But I’m not done yet with my trauma narrative. Just about, though so that’s cool.

I want to talk about the two most recent attacks on my body. I’ve blogged about them both before but they were terribly reactive posts instead of being reflective like this narrative should be.

Enter the DC chapter of my story.

I moved to DC in June of 2015. I got a job immediately and made so many friends there. I had also made hella connections with my housemates and had a solid support group. So when my housemate said “let’s go to a Juanes concert!” I couldn’t turn that shit down. And when my friends from work asked if I wanted to go out with them after my concert I was stoked to have a Friday night full of fun with people I cared about.

Of course that concert was dope as hell. And my housemate kindly accompanied me to the bar to meet my colleagues before dipping out. I got real real drunk and had a lot of fun with the friends.

Then we decided to go get some late-night ihop and traveled across town.

Here is where I forget much of what happened. Of course, it’s the integral part. It’s the “you will actually believe me if I could tell you all of these details” part. It’s the “I can totally describe what he and his car look like” part. The part that makes it real.

It still doesn’t feel real. It doesn’t feel real that I came to awareness while my head was being forced down on a stranger’s body. I realized I was crying and began to sob and scream. He slapped me in the face and told me not to cry. That I should like it. And when I didn’t stop crying he stopped the car and told me to get out. Dazed, drunk, terrified, and confused as all hell I got out of the car as he sped off.

I didn’t know where I was. I was sobbing uncontrollably and wandering around a neighborhood without any idea of where my phone was, what time it was, or where I was going. A stranger parked his car nearby and got out with his groceries- he asked me if I was okay, and if I needed to go anywhere. I just answered with a wail and fell to the ground crying. He helped me up.

He helped me up and he led me to his car and he asked me where I lived. I said the name of my street but didn’t know or couldn’t remember the cross street and I just described the surrounding area of my house. He drove me home, and watched until I got to my front door before he left. I was too drunk to remember where we kept the key on the front porch and I sat outside until I was able to wake up someone to let me in. I immediately went to my housemate’s room (the one I went to the concert with) and told her what happened.

So drunk. So sobbing. Much terror.

I tried to call my sister, my brother, my mom, my dad. Could not remember a single phone number. I fell asleep with mascara on my cheeks.

The next morning I came to and my housemate had messaged my sister on Facebook and my sister had called the cops and sent them to my house. I eventually called and reported the violation.

I was in the hospital for so long waiting to get my exam. DC provided me with someone called an advocate. She came in to the room while I was waiting and explained she was there as a legal representative for me. Free of charge. To help me cope with what happened and get through the investigation.

DC provided me with a human who understands the horror that is the aftermath of being assaulted. And she was amazing. She held my hand while the doctor asked me questions. She wrote me weekly emails in the months after the attack. Checking in, offering support. I am so grateful for that. She got me therapy at the DC Rape Crisis Center and she got the city to send me a check to cover the value of the clothes that forensics had to cut into tiny pieces so they could try and find the man that assaulted me.

The detectives came to my house the next day and the entire time I did not feel validated. I wish my advocate had been with me for this first interaction. I felt cold and like it was my fault. Because I was drunk.

IT IS NOT MY FAULT BECAUSE I WAS DRUNK. IT IS NOT MY FAULT. 

Sometimes I have to remind myself…

The conversation with the detectives was recorded. But my tears weren’t. All that was recorded were my answers to their questions. Usually some form of “I don’t know” or “I can’t remember” or “that part is fuzzy.”

Do you know how hard it is to report an assault you can’t remember? It is so frustrating and so toxic to know you were violated but to not be able to explain the details of the event? It physically hurt every time I had to tell them I couldn’t answer their questions.

The conversation was recorded but my internal feelings of shame, confusion, and absolute certainty that I was attacked were not.

On and on more stuff to do with the investigation. blah blah.

Basically they still haven’t found the dude and I doubt they ever will. But I reported it. And I jumped through the hoops. And it was incredibly hard.

I am sobbing right now as I write this because I haven’t thought about the humiliation of shouting “I was attacked! Me! I was hurt and I was used and it’s not okay!” and the first questions being “Were you drunk? How drunk? What were you wearing? And you can’t remember the color of the car?”

“Why did you leave your friends?”

“Why didn’t you call an uber and make sure the license plate matched?”

“Why did you leave your phone in his car?”

“Why did you get into a strangers car?”

Shit. I was drunk. And I was taken advantage of. Put drunk me anywhere and that doesn’t mean I’m going to be taken advantage of. The only part of the equation that got me assaulted was the man willing to assault me.

It is all on him.

It is not my fault.

Why don’t we tell men not to rape women instead of telling women what to do in order to not be raped? Get your shit together, America.

My narrative isn’t even fucking done there, either. Because trauma is forever and because I was assaulted again more recently. By a coworker.

And now I’m mad. I’m thinking “when the hell will this end because I am tired of getting attacked.” But I digress. Let me tell the story.

Bartender at one of my million serving jobs. On valentine’s day he gives me one of the roses the restaurant was giving to guests and he tells me I’m beautiful. Asks for my number.

Texts me 7 times in a row.

I tell him I’m doing shit and I’ll see him at work.

“Oh so it’s like that.”

Of course it’s like that I don’t know you stop texting me so much.

Fast forward to me having to return to work late one night to pick up the jacket I had left there. He asks me to go have a drink with him. I don’t see the harm in it and sure I had a long day so I’ll go for a drink.

He puts his hand on my leg in the car- I take it off and ask him not to touch me. He does it again and I tell him not to touch me.

We get to the bar and I’m glad it’s one near my home. We get drinks and I finish mine real quick. He has to take a call and the bartender asks if I’m okay. No I’m not okay I think he’s going to hurt me. “Yeah I’m fine, thank you for noticing my discomfort.” I text my housemate groupchat and they all tell me it’s okay for me to leave and that I should leave.

He comes back from taking the call and asks me to kiss him. I tell him I don’t want to and he pulls my head toward his and kisses me. Then he gets mad “why don’t you kiss me back do you not want me?” No I don’t want you. You scare me. “I don’t want to kiss you.”

I start to cry because I’m fucking triggered and I tell him I’ve been assaulted before and I don’t like the way he is making me feel and he says “stop crying I didn’t do anything wrong” and I call an uber and he tells me to stay. “Just stay here with me. We can go back to my place. Just stay.”

No. I go outside and get into the car. He follows and attempts to pull me out of the uber and my driver, a wonderful woman, asks if she needs to call the cops. That makes him let me go. I slam the door shut and start to hyperventilate, trying to hold back a massive panic attack.

My driver tells me I’m safe. That she’ll take me home or to the police station, whichever one I want. She takes me home, gives me her card, and tells me to call her if I ever need a ride.

Work has been pretty supportive but I’m still kind of pissed that they accidentally schedule me with him on the reg. I’m trying to work with HR but legit this shit ass should be fired. The work part’s a little more intricate but I’m tired of thinking about that right now.

You know what I’m noticing in both of these stories? Immediately after my assaults in DC I was faced with incredible people who are completely worthy of trust. I am able to trust a stranger right after being attacked by a stranger.

I don’t know if that makes me crazy or kind or just normal. But I am so grateful for the fact that I am able to continue trusting people. I wake up and usually am not afraid of the world. I feel stronger every day when I can find genuine joy and feel positively about my self and my body. Because it is hard to do that when your body has been stolen from you. When your self has been damaged seemingly beyond repair.

And thus ends my narrative as far as my past goes. But every day I’m writing my story and I am in control of where it’s going. I will always be living with trauma but I will still look for joy in every moment possible. This absolutely doesn’t mean I’m done blogging about my story (sorry not sorry) but I have finally concluded this portion of my therapy, of re-telling my trauma narrative and reflecting on how to take my story from here.

Thanks for reading. Until next time, friends.

 

To the Woman on the Bus

You don’t know me
And I don’t know you
But there are many people like me
People who listen

And when you say “I think six months is fair…”
About that Stanford Trial we all know about
…we hear you
And we listen.

You’re saying this to me
And to girls like me
And to girls like the woman who was so awfully taken advantage of

To the woman on the bus:
You don’t know me
But as you sit behind me and tell your husband that she

Drank too much

Or that she

Wore too little

Remember that you are a woman. And remember that we must stick together.

Because when you speak of that case, and you say out loud to a full bus that it was the victim’s fault

You are telling me that it was my fault

I can hear you. And I am listening.

When I was fifteen, sixteen, eighteen, twenty, and twenty-three years old you are telling me it was my fault

When it happened time and time again

It is my fault they took parts of me that I’ll never get back

It is my fault they took some of my joy I will never find again

When you say that she shouldn’t have gotten so drunk. When you say that he was drunk so he’s not responsible

You’re telling all survivors, those of us listening, that they didn’t do enough to keep themselves from getting violated.

You are part of the problem.

So when I walked off that bus and I told you “it is never the victim’s fault” I wasn’t just telling you that

I was reminding myself

Because you blindly shouted to your husband and the girl in front of you that you are siding with a predator. And this girl was listening

And you reminded this girl that she needs to keep fighting, to keep listening

She needs to keep fighting a culture that teaches daughters about safety but doesn’t teach sons about consent

Keep fighting a world that tries to tell women their feelings aren’t validated

Keep fighting people like you who don’t realize the triggers they are spouting to a stranger on a bus.

But people like you remind me that listening is not enough. I need to be telling. I need to be sharing my story and telling everyone that it is never the victim’s fault.

Because it isn’t

And maybe, if I keep talking

I will be louder than the people like you.

And everyone who is listening will hear me over you

After I looked you in the eye I walked away with my heart pounding and my hands shaking

Because I was fighting my mind

I was battling the guilt that I have beaten down in the past. You reminded me that I once believed it was all my fault.

We must stand together.

We must remind each other that we are strong and that our emotions are validated. That it is never our fault.

To the woman on the bus:
People are listening. So change your dialogue. Don’t feed into the culture- we have terrible judges that give out six month sentences to do that for us

Change your dialogue and tell the people who are listening that they will be okay

That it isn’t their fault

And that you stand with them.

Sincerely,
The Girl Who Listens

Letters: Part One

Trigger warning: rape

This is a letter to the man who violently raped me in Spain.

You,

When we met you seemed like an awkward yet kind person who wanted to make a human connection.

We got drunk on tinto de veranos and the night. Your friend enchanted mine and suddenly my walking buddy was gone.

It was us. You and I in a bar together. I didn’t have exceptionally good feelings when I realized I was alone with you but I ignored my gut and decided to trust you.

I trusted you the bare minimum of human trust. I trusted you to respect my space, to respect me as a person, and to not hurt me. That’s it.

But the night was in your favor. And we left together. I looked for my friend and you told me not to worry. So I worried.

You pushed me up against a wall and kissed me. You said you had been waiting to do that all night. I asked you not to do it again.

You did it again.

So I got sassy. I told you to go home and I would do the same. You said okay and sulked away.

But I didn’t know that you didn’t keep walking. As I made my way to the main street through a convenient alleyway, you hit me on the head with something ridiculously painful.

Were you intimidated by me? Is that why you had to sneak up behind me and knock me unconscious? Was I just that sexy? Was I so attractive that you very literally needed to take me?

I don’t know, nor will I ever know the motivation behind hitting a woman in the back of the head just to drag her into an apartment entrance so you can violate her.

I woke up feeling intense pain and the weirdest pleasure. I absolutely hate you for that. I came out of unconsciousness and for a split second I felt good. And then, as my splitting headache made itself aware, I understood what was happening. And I felt sick.

All I could think about was getting as far away from you as possible. So I kicked you as hard as I could while you were penetrating me. It didn’t stop you but my screams of agony that I thought were only in my head alerted three angels nearby. Three men that came when they heard my screams. And they removed you from me. One even pulled my leggings up as I sat crying in the alley.

And he grasped my shoulders, looked me in the eyes, and told me to run.

And I wanted to run. But what I really wanted to do was hurt you. And when I approached you with my fists clenched I wanted to take your life. Because you had just taken a strong woman and yanked her all the way back to when she was a frightened teen who has just lost her virginity to rape. I wanted to beat you bloody- I was ready to. And when I hit you it felt good. But then I didn’t want to touch you any more. So I stood there, fists at the ready, sobbing because I had been reduced to nothing but a vessel for terrible memories. And as I turned and ran I heard one of the angels tell me not to worry and not to listen.

You broke the wall that had been holding my memories back. You unearthed the mountain of pain and self hatred and guilt that I had been burying for years.

Thanks for that, asshole.

Because of your bullshit, pathetic, disgusting display of dominance and “manhood,” I have talked about my assaults. I have looked at my trauma head-on and have done my very best to come to terms with it.

You terrible human. You awful man made of hatred and greed. You disgusting creature bent on controlling others… I won’t let you have me.

I won’t give you my fear. I won’t give you my tears or my sadness or my guilt. I will shoulder those things. I will pack them up nicely and only sort through them when I want to. When I have the time. I am my own human and what you did to me will not take my identity away, you fucking waste.

You were not my first assailant. But your letter was the first I chose to write. Because you were the most integral to my recovery. Had you not been the mass of idiotic dick-brain that you are, I might never have been so traumatized that I had to reach out for help.

I may have never found my road to living with trauma.

And while my nights of sleep are sometimes interrupted by your voice or the feeling of you inside of me, I’m still here. And I get the fuck up out of bed and make something of myself and my life every day. Because fuck you. You tried to take my feelings of security and self-love. You attempted to rob me of myself.

And you failed.

I am here and strong and I am telling my story.

Sorting Through Stuff

Do you ever start cleaning your room and find that random box full of old letters and pictures and report cards? And you sit down and go through and look at everything in the box? You let all of the memories wash over you with every flick through the photo album. You feel your feelings associated with your baby blanket or that binder full of notes your best friend passed you in eighth grade. You take everything out of the box and hold it in your hands before setting it aside. Then, you might throw a few things away or you might choose do display some stuff but you pack everything else up and put it back in the box.

That’s what this blog is for me. My recent series of posts related to my trauma are me unpacking my baggage and sorting the fuck through my emotions and memories. Getting a grip on my experiences and my personal identity.

This blog is really important to me. I am always safe when I’m writing. I am able to be reflective and basically talk to myself without getting any weird looks on the train. And it means the world to me when someone I know (or don’t know!) reads my thoughts and tells me I’m not alone.

The next few posts on this site will be letters I have written to those who have traumatized me. The men who sexually assaulted me and the individuals who I encountered directly after certain assaults.

But it’s not all going to be trauma-centric and sad. I also have a series of letters to write to the people who have supported me through my suffering and who have never let me forget that it is Not My Fault.

So these next few posts are potentially going to be graphic. They will definitely contain strong language and sweeping emotional realizations. These letters will allow me to say all the things I have never even known I need to say. They will be another step on my road of surviving with trauma.

Join me on my journey if you’d like.

Learning My Boundaries

Alright. Fair warning- this is a really dark post and I’m a little bit afraid of posting it but I don’t think some men understand how shitty they are and I don’t think some people understand how hard it is to live after sexual trauma.

Trigger warning- rape, sexual assault, suicide

Fuck, why am I writing this?

Why am I about to tell you the actual thoughts bopping about in my head?

Right now I very literally want to die. I want to crawl into a ball and shrink and shrink until nothing exists anymore. I want to find any possible way to end the feelings and the thoughts in my head.

Because of one asshole.

Let me tell you a story. It should be pretty short but I’m sure I’ll make it longer than it needs to be.

I work at like 30 million restaurants. A good thing for this particular blog post because I’m about to talk to you about a coworker at one of my jobs.

I recently met this individual at work. On Valentine’s day, while we were working he and I had our first real conversation.

He got my number in that conversation. No big deal because we work together and that info is readily available.

That night, after I had worked a double, he asks me to hang out. I tell him I’m tired but he gets pushy and weird. Sending me hella texts and emojis and whatever- my housemate, E, told me to stop talking to this guy because he’s weird and coming on way too strong. I had to agree with E.

Fast forward to tonight. Between V-day and tonight he has probably asked me to hang out 15-20 times. And every time I say no- whether I’m working, tired, or just don’t want to- he makes it about himself. “Oh, so you don’t want to talk to me.” “Oh, so you don’t actually want to hang out you just gave me your number for no reason.” blah blah.

Clearly this guy is a dick. Also clearly (in everything I ever do….ever) I am tooooo nice.

So tonight I had to go back to job #1 to get my coat ’cause I forgot it when I left for job #2. Guy I Work With happened to just be getting off of work, so he told me to come out for a drink with him.

He told me to come out for a drink with him.

There was no opportunity to say no. It wasn’t a question.

Yes, guys. I know logically that whenever I don’t want to do something that is all the “explanation” I need to give. Just. No. Fuck you. I want to go home. I am tired and I don’t want to go out with you. All of those things could have been said. But I didn’t want to be mean.

Because fuck me, right? I never want to be mean. I never want to hurt peoples’ feelings. And this guy had been sort of annoying- but he had yet to give me any reason to be mean to him or to not give him a chance. He’s cute and seemed nice from what I knew of him from working with him every weekend.

But, dude. I had a bad night tonight- I was stressed out and soooooo tired from working all freaking day long. And then I felt pressured into spending time with this dude because even though I’ve recently learned how to say no- I am still learning when and how and with how much force I need to say it. I got into his car and we drove to the bar. He touched my thigh and I took his hand off and told him “no, thank you.” He still touched my thigh two times after that.

I still went to the bar with him. Because he’s just a guy, right? And he hasn’t done anything to hurt me. I’m just pretty and he wants to touch me- that’s okay, right?

So we went to a bar. A bar very conveniently located around the corner from my best friend and just a mile away from my house. Uber-friendly, yaknow?

While at this bar all my head is screaming is “get out- you’re uncomfortable and don’t want to be here. Leave! Leave! Fucking LEAVE! ALERT, RED FLAGS!” But I am calmly talking to this guy. And I am apologizing for being mean to him. Because he said I’m mean to him. And I’m drinking a drink that he bought me. And I decided to come to the bar with him so that means I’m obligated to stay, right?

He is all shitty because I pulled his hand off me in the car. “Oh, I’ll just sit far away from you, then. I’ll leave you alone, then. Sorry I touched you and made you uncomfortable, I’ll just never look at you- how’s that?”

So we talk. And I tell him that I don’t know what I want with my life and I’m in a tough transition and I tell him that  I am uncomfortable because I have been assaulted many times in the past and I don’t trust men whose first instinct is to rub my thigh before getting to know me.

He tells me he’ll never pressure me into doing something I don’t want.

He kisses me.

I tell him I don’t want to kiss him.

He gets mad and asks me why I am at a bar with him if I’m not interested.

I say I just wanted to try and get to know him outside of work.

He grabs my head and kisses me again. Tells me to kiss him back.

I look at the bartender and he thankfully comes over to ask if we need anything- gets Guy I Work With to order some food.

I realize that I am uncomfortable and suddenly feel very, very unsafe. Fight or flight has kicked in. AND I FEEL BAD ABOUT THAT.

GIWW gets a phone call and excuses himself. I text my roommates and my bff that I don’t know what to do or how to leave. They all suggest a sudden emergency. But I didn’t feel comfortable lying to the dude. I start to panic because I feel super vulnerable and scared and worried and all of those things that lead to anxiety.

I start to cry. And Guy I Work With asks why. I tell him I feel uncomfortable and I want to go home. He immediately begins to apologize. Not for anything in particular. Just “I’m sorry, stay. I want you to stay. I don’t want you to go. Please stay, I’m sorry.”

But I want to go home. And he says “fine, you just want me to ignore you at work and never talk to you again.” And I tell him that’s stupid and to go from one extreme to another is unfair and bullshit to me. And he says “please stay.”

At this point, I could have stayed. Which would have spiraled into more drinks and more anxiety and more “feeling obligated.” Which is often followed by worse things.

But for the first time in my  life I left because I needed to. (also because alll of my housemates were telling me to leave and stop giving a shit about this guy)

Regardless, I left. I called an Uber. Guy I Work With said “can I at least walk you to the car?” …. I said yes. Because to say no would be rude, right? (God, I am so fucked up)

He walks me to the car and makes me kiss him goodnight. I go to get into the Uber and he pulls me back, pulls me very close to him, grabs my ass, and says “wouldn’t you rather come home with me?”

I looked at him, pulled myself away, and said no- I want to go home.

I closed the door and broke the fuck down in the car. Thankfully my Uber driver was the best freakin woman in the world and she let me cry and talked to me and gave me tissues and her personal card- told me to call her if any man ever made me feel this way again. Because I’m pretty and I’m young and I need to learn how to “leave they asses on the street.” I think she and I will be friends.

Thankfully my housemates were here when I got home. Thankfully E just walked to me and hugged me and told me I was safe. Thankfully S made me some tea and told me she was proud of me for leaving.

Because had they not been home I don’t know what would have happened.

Because, the thing is, I know logically that this guy gave me approximately ONE BILLION red flags for “asshole” before we even made it to the bar. And I know that I owe nobody anything ever for anything they do for me. Whether they’re nice to me or buy me a drink or anything. I know this.

But knowing and feeling are two very different things. And I always feel like I always owe everyone everything just for dealing with my existence. Because I am fucked up. And I am a lot to handle. And I know how stupid it was for me to hang out with this guy. I know that I need to listen to my inner alarm bells and not give a shit if I am “upsetting” or “hurting” or “offending” the other party. Because myself and my safety come first.

But I can’t help but trust people and give them the benefit of the doubt. I just trust people. Which could be part of the reason I have been repeatedly assaulted in my life.

It could also just be a character trait. I refuse to say flaw because, even though it brings me a lot of trouble, being able to trust people(men) after being raped is not common. I somehow manage to hold on to some strange innocence and I always see people for their best intentions.

And I keep getting let down, guys. I keep finding myself in terrible, painful situations where had I just been a little bit more selfish I could have avoided. But I really don’t think I can change that.

Should I change that? Should I try harder to not trust people? Or to actually be mean? I don’t know. All I know is that being too kind/nice/trusting has translated into “being in ridiculously awkward/uncomfortable situations” too often for me.

I started writing this post thinking I wanted to kill myself tonight because it is so hard to feel as if you can’t make your own decisions. It is so painful to feel as if you’re stuck in your body without a say in the world. That you are just there for someone else to have fun with. It is sickening and painful and oh my dear lord almost impossible to describe.While he was kissing me tonight, all I felt was a hot, heavy weight in my stomach as if I were stuck there. I felt dirty and sick and lost and scared.

And I told him I was uncomfortable. And he kissed me again and told me to kiss him back- if I was at a bar with him I was interested and that means I should kiss him back.

But after writing all of this out I realize that I did make a decision for me tonight. It was fucking hard- and it took me long enough… but I left because I didn’t want to be there anymore.

I told him no. I took his hand off of my thigh two times. Yes, two times out of like twenty. But two more than zero.

I am slowly (and so very painfully) learning how to assert my boundaries. And although I feel so small and useless and unworthy of love right now I know that I performed an act of self-love tonight. And I should be proud of that.

This blog post has very seriously helped me from hurting myself tonight.

I am too honest. I am too nice. I don’t think about myself enough. And I am disclosing way too much personal information on the internet.

And I don’t fucking care. Because that is who I am. I am too nice. And I am probably letting you see way too far into my head. But I’m still here. And I will continue to trust people too easily and to love people too unconditionally because that’s how I know how to live.

I am learning my boundaries. It’s a hard process but I’m learning them. And I am proud of leaving tonight. I am in a much better place now than I was when I left that bar this evening. But even as I left the bar, I had a million times more respect for myself and my feelings than I did a year ago.

So…there’s that.

Thanks for reading.

Serving is a “Real Job”

This one goes out to all the haters.

It goes out to all of the “professionals”- the office workers, executives, teachers, doctors, etc.

This goes out to the people who can make their six-month internship look like gold on a resume by marketing all of the transferable skills they learned.

This goes out to the employers who don’t see 3 years of serving as “professional experience.”

But mostly, this goes out to all of the people who scoff, roll their eyes, and/or ask the infuriating question “okay, but when are you going to get a real job?”

Serving. Is. A. Real. Job.

A “job” is not confined to a 9-5, desk-working, high-salary occupation. A job is a place or trade where one can go in and exchange labor for dollars. That’s basically it. Obviously serving falls into that category.

But beyond the basic “job” definition, let me explain a little bit further.

Servers are expected to have a near-complete grasp of company policies and procedures as well as menu descriptions in as little as 5 days, with a total of roughly 15-20 hours of training. Servers are legitimately tested on their menu and restaurant knowledge throughout their training. Like actual sit-down-and-write tests.

Both during and after training, servers hone their hospitality, math, communication, prioritization, and organization skills. In one six-hour shift a server can take on as many as five different roles in a restaurant, from host to busser to food runner, even occasionally to bartender depending on the restaurant. They are the kings and queens of wearing many hats at work.

Restaurants are fast-paced places. Impeccable timing is necessary to make a restaurant run efficiently. Servers have to be sure to greet your table within 60 seconds, deliver drinks within 2-4 minutes, and keep an eye on the kitchen to make sure your appetizers, entrees, and desserts all come out at the right times. But servers don’t just have one table to take care of. Remember, you are not a server’s only guest. Prioritization is key in a server’s life. They must quickly learn how to delegate tasks to bussers and/or other servers with a few free minutes so that they do not get stuck “in the weeds,” a term for being overwhelmed.

Beyond the logistical hell that can be a restaurant work environment, servers also have to interact with up to (and sometimes over!) a hundred people each shift. And you know what? So many of these people are assholes. 

And servers can’t just make the assholes leave. They have to smile, bear with it, and even apologize for doing absolutely nothing wrong because their fucking hourly wage depends on their guests liking them. Servers have to connect with their tables and develop a working rapport within 60 seconds. They have to calculate how often they think you’ll want them to check back at the table, how much you’ll want to chat with them, and dear lord they have to learn very quickly how to gracefully excuse themselves from your conversation because they just got sat or they need to run drinks at the bar.

Talk about transferable skills, yo.

Full-time servers work anywhere between 35 and 60 hours a week. They have the potential to make more money than those who work in an office full-time and definitely often make more than teachers or other professionals.

“But there’s no room for professional growth as a server! Once you’re a server you’re stuck there!” Ha! Or not. Restaurants often hire from within. A great server can quickly climb the ladder to General Manager. GMs can further climb up the ladder. Seriously. Work hard and don’t suck at your job as a server and you can do a lot in the hospitality industry.

Just because servers work in an environment without a fixed schedule or salary and have flexible, creative job descriptions does not, in any way, mean that serving isn’t a real job.

Check yourself the next time you’re about to ask your friend or family member when they’re going to quit waiting tables and “get a real job.” Because you are shaming them for having a great job. You are saying that because they choose to be in a position that provides incredible service that they are somehow subordinate and/or less of a person than you. And that is hella silly. Because when you go to a restaurant you want a good server, don’t you? And what kind of a person is going to be a great server if they show up to work thinking they don’t have a real job?

And don’t forget, folks- always tip your server. You can fuck up at your job and still get paid the same salary, so don’t take it out on you waiter if they’ve had a bad day or forgot to bring you your ranch.